Niles Must Be Fair To Taxpayers, Schools, Business
It's good to encourage business, but Niles has to have a plan for granting tax breaks. Otherwise it could end up hurting schools, park districts and individual homeowners. A Letter to the Editor from four Niles trustees.
The following Letter to the Editor represents the views of the authors alone. Patch merely serves as a platform for writers to express their opinions.
Policy Must be Rational, Honest and Fair
Sometimes in government there are terms and definitions which seem confusing or even awkwardly simple, yet do not really indicate what the meaning and implications are to their use by local governments.
Such is the case with Cook County 6(B) tax incentive requests.
The County Assessor’s office has a document which clearly states the meaning and purpose of the 6(B): “The Class 6b classification is designed to encourage industrial development throughout Cook County by offering a real estate tax incentive for the development of new industrial facilities, the rehabilitation of existing industrial structures, and the industrial reutilization of abandoned buildings. The goal of Class 6b is to attract new industry, stimulate expansion and retention of existing industry and increase employment opportunities.”
This is good and effective public policy to maintain business growth in a particular area. Interested readers can access the Assessor’s web site for a more detailed explanation.
At the November board meeting a majority of the village trustees were presented almost at the “last minute” with such a request. We were being asked to approve a 6B application, but we had no detailed plan as to how village government was to analyze this important document.
We requested the administration to prepare a memorandum which would detail what is involved in granting such a request and for the long term implications of such an action…in fact, action which would affect tax assessments for the next twelve years. We passed the 6b application for the requested property with the promise that we would receive an organized plan for future consideration of any 6b.
To our knowledge the matter was turned over to our former village manager who apparently did not prepare the analysis which we requested.
In fact, it would have been a relatively easy matter for the village administration to suggest even the basics for such action, which has already been in place in neighboring suburbs (See the procedures which Glenview follows). In reading the Glenview procedures, please note that Glenview includes the school districts and their park district in the information/decision-making process. They should be included since each of the districts must bear the results of new assessments.
At the Niles Village Board meeting on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 (click here for video of meeting), we again faced a situation in which the administration and a trustee demanded that another 6B request be voted on immediately. Our concerns had not been addressed by the administration and we were not going to be stampeded like crazed cattle in some cowboy movie to act without knowing the full implications for our actions.
We postponed action. It would not be fair to the company, which we sincerely want to remain in Niles, to the schools, to the park district, to the library district or to the property owners of Niles who might have their assessments refigured in ways in which they might object.
We trustees took oaths of office to do the public business with honesty, sincerity and with knowledge of what our actions mean. It is of no value to exhibit emotional behavior as a method of convincing trustees to cast a vote in a particular way. In board meetings, we meet and act as public servants, and will always continue to do so with dignity and aplomb. Our public meetings are for the purpose of public policy, not private agendas.
Village of Niles Trustees
Louella Blaine Preston